Francis Cardinal George celebrated his milestone 75th birthday Monday with his sister, but he's also expected to formally deliver a letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI.
No one anticipates the Pope will accept it however. It is a formality for all Catholic bishops turning 75.
Most likely he will remain the head of the Chicago Archdiocese for two or three years.
However, George is beginning the transition for the next Chicago archbishop. He’s recently named a new chief operating officer and would like to have a stratetigic plan in place for whomever succeeds him.
In an interview with NBC 5, Cardinal George notes he’s “the first archbishop to ever reach 75” and explains “this is a tough job.”
As for his health, he recently underwent a complete medical checkup at the Mayo Clinic and his spokesman says “he’s delighted with a good report.”
Five years ago, Cardinal George underwent bladder cancer surgery, but has maintained a vigorous schedule.
While it is the Pope’s choice of who will succeed George, five names have been already been mentioned. Several have Chicago roots including: Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerry Listecki, Tucscon’s Bishop Gerald Kicanis, Springfield Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki, and former Joliet Bishop and now currently the Seattle Archbishop James Peter Sartain. Also mentioned is Louisville’s Bishop Joseph Kurtz.
Catholic Theological Union’s President Rev. Donald Senior sees that Cardinal George “wants to get things in order” and adds “there’s gong to be a lot of speculation of who comes next.”
Cardinal George says he’s looking forward to having time to work with the poor and teach once he retires. He jokingly adds “I would like to meet my successor.”